“The Knees on our Necks”

This morning, I sat on a zoom call with the Interfaith Leaders of Greater Lafayette, Pastor’s Alliance, Diversity Round Table, the Islamic Society, as well as the mayors of Lafayette and West Lafayette, the police chiefs and deputies.  The topic was on how we can address the nationwide issues of police brutality, implicit bias, hiring…

“Accountability is a Jewish Value”

As I read through this week’s Torah portion, Naso, I came across some powerful words: Adonai spoke to Moses, saying: 6 Speak to the Israelites: When a man or woman commits any wrong toward a fellow man, thus breaking faith with Adonai, and that person realizes his guilt, 7 he shall confess the wrong that…

“Our Struggle with American Individualism”

Lately there has been a great deal of discussion in rabbinical circles on how to deal with the upcoming High Holy Days during the COVID-19 pandemic.  As you can imagine, we rabbis are torn about what to do, whether to go virtual or not, and when to start making those decisions. During one fruitful conversation…

“Our Need for Jubilee”

  This week’s parsha, Behar, discusses the biblical concepts of the Sabbatical year and the Jubilee.  Leviticus 25 begins with these words: The LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai: 2  Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: When you enter the land that I assign to you, the land shall observe a…

“Be Angry, Then Be the Change”

This week we enter parsha Emor, a series of laws on the Sabbath, Pesach, Sukkot, Shavuot, and Yom Kippur, as well as laws about blasphemy and other serious crimes.  To be completely honest, as I held the text and commentaries to my nose, no matter what I did, I simply could not focus on the…

“What Makes a Good Jew?”

I am always pleased to come to this parsha, K’doshim.  While it is in the midst of Leviticus, a book which can often seem foreign or alien to our modern practices, this parsha, which contains what we call “The Holiness Code,” carries within it timeless understandings of what it means to be a Jew in…

“Niddah and COVID-19”

Ah, Metzora, the ickiest parsha  in the Torah, with Tazria,  the  previous parsha,  coming at a close  second.  With our double portion  occurring this week,  Jews around the world get to read about  leprosy, scaly skin, hair infections, and then move right to human discharge, bodily fluids, and, of course, the laws about menstruation. Believe…

“When the Virus Goes Away”

There is a phrase in my house that comes up multiple times a day. “When the virus goes away…” Typically, it’s being said by my five-year-old. “When the virus goes away, I can go back to preschool.” “When the virus goes away, I can have a real birthday party.” “When the virus goes away, we…

“Let Me Behold Your Presence”

This morning we join together for Chol HaMo-eid Pesach, the Shabbat that falls during Passover.  Hopefully many of you joined one another virtually for a Passover Seder this past week, and we welcome you all this morning to another virtual Shabbat together.  I found this week’s Torah portion, the special portion we read for Chol…

“Keep the Fire Burning”

This week, as we trek on through Leviticus, we reach the parsha, Tzav, which begins with chapter 6, the instructions for how to tend to the fire used on the altar in order to properly engage in the ritual of sacrifice.   Adonai spoke to Moses, saying: 2 Command Aaron and his sons thus: This…

“We’re All Refugees Now”

Last week, I spoke to you all about how we will get through this new reality, how we will adapt to new challenges.  I wanted, on my first sermon via livestream, to help us all find comfort and peace in this new form of community we now find ourselves in. Last week, however, was also…

“We Will Adapt”

It sure is different around here.  At times like this, when everything seems completely unfamiliar, I am reminded of a teaching by Rabbi Michael Marmur, the former provost of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, who notes, “the most traditional thing a Jew can do is change.”  I’m always stunned by those who feel that…